We all know that we should manage our stress, but we don’t necessarily know why or how!
Stress is not something that we can or should eradicate from our lives. If we care about anything at all, we are going to experience some stress, anxiety, frustration, fear and other so-called negative emotions.
“The key to stress management is to minimize our concern and worry over things that are out of our control.”
Kay Frances, MBA
We also need to realize that stress management is directly tied to our health, productivity and well-being.
It’s a well-documented fact that people who manage their stress are happier and more productive than those who don’t. In our frenzied world, people need to be reminded of why stress management is vitally important.
Stress. We bandy that word around a lot. But, what is stress?
According to Psychology Today, “Stress generally refers to two things: the psychological perception of pressure, on the one hand, and the body’s response to it, on the other, which involves multiple systems, from metabolism to muscles to memory. Through hormonal signaling, the perception of danger sets off an automatic response system, known as the fight-or-flight response, that prepares all animals to meet a challenge or flee from it. A stressful event —whether an external phenomenon like the sudden appearance of a snake on your path or an internal event like fear of losing your job when the boss yells at you—triggers a cascade of hormones, including adrenaline and cortisol, that surge through the body, speeding heartbeat and the circulation of blood, mobilizing fat and sugar for fast energy, focusing attention, preparing muscles for action, and more. It generally takes some time for the body to calm down after the stress response has been triggered.”
One way that Kay encourages people to manage their stress is to remind them to minimize worry, stress and concern about things that they can’t control. We have legitimate things in our lives that cause us anxiety and stress without adding “First World Problems” to them. We simply have to let the little things go!
Kay Frances has been studying stress management for a very long time and is passionate about sharing what she has learned through her research, education and personal experience. And, she presents it in a fun, funny and lively way. Stress management has never been so fun!
Stress Management in the Workplace
We. Are. Stressed. If you are on the job in America, you may be one of the people that know this all too well.
According to the American Psychological Association, “65 percent of American cited work as a top source of stress. Everyone who has ever held a job has, at some point, felt the pressure of work-related stress. Any job can have stressful elements, even if you love what you do. In the short-term, you may experience pressure to meet a deadline or to fulfill a challenging obligation. But when work stress becomes chronic, it can be overwhelming — and harmful to both physical and emotional health.”
Kay’s Stress Management Techniques
- Take inventory of what is stressing you. You have to be mindful of your thoughts and feelings. Take a good look at what is happening to you on the job and in your life in general and how you react to it. What are you doing when you feel stressed? Keep track of what comes up in my mind and emotions and what your resulting action or reaction is. It can help to write it down and see what patterns are developing.
- What are you doing to manage your stress? Many people feel they are doing just fine managing their stress, but are they using healthy coping mechanisms? Some of the ways we manage our stress might be good in the short term, but actually add more to our stress in the long run. For example, when you feel yourself getting upset, it can feel really good to eat a bag of Cheetos. But, afterwards, you will feel lethargic and tired from the carb overload and empty calories. If this is a chronic coping mechanism, it will lead to weight gain and the associated health problems. More stress!
- Are you using healthy coping mechanisms? Reaching for a high-protein snack such as nuts or cheese is more effective when feeling stressed than junk food which raises our insulin levels, resulting in a “crash” later. It might “feel good” in the short run to spend the evening on the couch, but going for a walk or getting in some brisk exercise has been proven to lower cortisol, the stress hormone.
- DECIDE that you want less stress in your life. You would think this is a no-brainer, but in our society, sometimes we cling to our stress because it makes us feel busy, important and in-demand. Once we realize the folly of this kind of thinking and get serious about stressing less, we will find it easier to engage in the kinds of things that will make us feel better and less stressed. One example is the need for sleep. Sleep is not a luxury; it is a necessity. Yet, it is often the first thing to go when our lives get hectic. Become a “rack hound!” Don’t brag to people about how little sleep you can get by on. Become a person that brags about the 7-8 hours you get because you realize it’s vital for your health!
- RELAX! We are so wound up, it’s difficult to even know how to truly relax. Ever had an entire weekend when you completely powered down? I’m talking no computer, phone or television. Spend time in nature! Reconnect with loved ones through *gasp* conversation! Even ancient concepts like yoga and meditation have been proven to reduce stress levels in the body.
- Keep up with your hobbies! Whether it’s golfing, spending time with uplifting friends, scrapbooking, listening to good music or reading a good book, make time for YOU! You have so many demands on you on your job that you simply must make time for yourself in your free time.
- Communicate! Sometimes, we are afraid that if we speak up to our boss about an unreasonable workload that they will view that as a deficit in us. Truth is, they may not know if you don’t speak up! Don’t wait until you are so stressed that you blow a gasket and walk off the job. Approach your boss human to human and calmly lay out your case. Even better, offer a solution. A good boss knows that the most productive people are happy, healthy and satisfied. Give them the benefit of the doubt and assume that they just don’t know how stressed you are! Sometimes the communication from your boss isn’t clear and you might just need clarification. Don’t be afraid to ask!
- Get help! We think nothing of going to a doctor for a physical ailment, but many of us still subscribe to the notion that an emotional or mental ailment is some kind of character flaw. It most certainly is not! Don’t wait for a complete breakdown. Seek out help when you begin to feel your life is going out of control. Be a person who is strong enough to know their weaknesses.